Generally, it’s unwise to dwell on all the hands that touch your food before you do. With one luxe exception. We jockey for seats at counters specially designed for views of well-trained fingertips pressing raw fish and subtly seasoned rice into formation. Seattle’s best dining experiences—Sushi Kashiba, Sushi Wataru, Shiro’s—take it a step further: Counter customers often receive bites directly from the grasp of a genial showman chef. No intermediary, often not even a plate, required.

By Tae, the new occupant of a tiny counter inside Chophouse Row on Capitol Hill, distills this indulgence into something intensely personal. Chef Sun Hong, an alum of Matt Dillon’s Bar Ferdinand, fashions seasonal albacore or negihama into hand rolls and presents them directly to occupants of his scant seven counter stools with an exhortation to “eat it fast” while the nori’s still crisp. Lunch offers all the interactive thrill of high-end omakase, complete with a personable host, but costs maybe one-fourth the price: A trio of rolls runs about $20.

Show Comments